Loved Ones: “Sparrow,” by Caleb Curtiss

For National Poetry Month, I am going to record some of my favorite poems and talk a little about what they mean to me. I hope you enjoy!


Caleb is the poetry editor at Hobart, and a new friend. I picked up his book, The Taxonomy of the Space Between Us, at the AWP conference last week because I want to support someone who has published my work, and because I wanted to support the good work that Black Lawrence Press does.

I was knocked out by the simplicity and quiet sincerity of this poem about grief. Poetry should move us, sometimes to tears.

This one did.


–by Caleb Curtiss

My sister
is not a woman, a girl or even

a real someone or something.
Not anymore.

In her place I find a bird
nearly frozen, lying

in a field, its body
broken in some way,

and it is utterly flightless
and possibly a sparrow–

any bird
would be a curious replacement–

but this bird is like her,
and it is also like a child. Its body

trembles like a child’s
as if it has lost something

irretrievably warm,
something simple,

and it is dying, of course,
but it is also

the kind of thing that she, as a child,
would so often be moved

to care for. The kind of thing
I could never look at.

Even now, I don’t want to.
Even now, I know I could use this moment,

this dying thing to remember her with,
but I don’t want to.

from Taxonomy of the Space Between Us (Black Lawrence Press, 2015)

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